March 30, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt, Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya, Maureen Chowdhury, Travis Caldwell, Seán Federico O'Murchú, Lianne Kolirin and Sana Noor Haq, CNN

Updated 12:02 a.m. ET, March 31, 2022
43 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
1:36 p.m. ET, March 30, 2022

Heavy fighting continues in Kyiv's outskirts Wednesday 

From CNN’s Vasco Cotovio, Fred Pleitgen and Byron Blunt in Kyiv

Heavy fighting continued in the outskirts of Kyiv on Wednesday, despite an announced drawdown of Russian forces around the Ukrainian capital.

A CNN team newsgathering near the suburb of Irpin heard constant incoming and outgoing shelling.

Multiple rocket launch systems were also heard intermittently near the last checkpoint between Kyiv and Irpin, as was sporadic outgoing small arms fire.

1:20 p.m. ET, March 30, 2022

UK says it has issued 25,500 visas to Ukrainians fleeing the war  

From CNN’s Benjamin Brown in London 

The British government said Wednesday that it has issued 25,500 visas to Ukrainian refugees fleeing the war.  

Of the 25,500 visas issued as of Tuesday, 22,800 were granted to applicants under the Ukraine Family Scheme, the Home Office said. The visa program allows Ukrainian refugees to apply to join or accompany a UK-based family member and if granted a visa, to live, work and study in the UK and access public funds. 

Some 2,700 visas have been issued through the Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme, also known as the “Homes for Ukraine” program, despite 28,300 applications having been made. More than 200,000 people in the UK have offered to host Ukrainian refugees in their homes under the scheme which launched on March 18, a spokesperson for the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities told CNN on Wednesday. 

Across both the visa schemes, the Home Office has received a total of 59,500 applications, of which fewer than half have been approved. Earlier this month, the UK government was criticized for its response to Ukrainian refugees, with its Family Scheme being described as complex and lengthy by people navigating the system. 

1:38 p.m. ET, March 30, 2022

Ukrainian Ministry of Defense says Russian army continues "full-scale, armed aggression"

From CNN's Josh Pennington and Lindsay Isaac

On Wednesday, the Russian army continued to conduct a full-scale, armed aggression against Ukraine, while Ukrainian forces continue to conduct a defense operation in the eastern, southeastern, and northeastern directions, according to the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense

The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense also claims Russian troops have “suffered significant losses” and likely “temporarily gave up the task of blocking Kyiv.”

The Russian military has regrouped and is focused on “offensive operations in the Eastern Operational Zone and to increase the system of logistical support of troops in the Donetsk and Tavriya areas,” the ministry said in a statement.

Russia has “intensified fire and assault operations” in the Donetsk region and “continues to strike air and missile strikes on settlements.”

The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claims that Russia’s main efforts are focused on taking control of the cities of Popasana, Rubizhne and Mariupol. It also claims that the Russian military is “demoralized” and has “low motivation to take part in hostilities in Ukraine.”

Russian forces are continuing to build up in the area of the Chernobyl power plant, the Shelter Facility, and the exclusion zone in general, according to the latest assessment.

Some background: Yesterday, Moscow claim it would "drastically reduce military activity," but US officials are skeptical of Russia's claims, with the Pentagon cautioning that troop movement near Kyiv is "a repositioning," not a withdrawal.

1:21 p.m. ET, March 30, 2022

Slovenia prime minister voices support to send S-300 air defense systems to Ukraine

From CNN’s Adam Pourahmadi in Abu Dhabi 

Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša said Wednesday that he supports sending the S-300 missile defense systems to Ukraine.  

“Yes, I support this because this is the equipment that Ukraine needs the most," he told CNN's Becky Anderson, but added, “I don’t support speaking a lot about what we are giving them."

Janša also said he spoke to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who told him that his government is prepared to propose a referendum to Ukrainians to change the constitution to abandon Ukraine's wish to join NATO. 

“I think they made some kind of pragmatic decision, because after they will win this war, I think that it will be NATO wanting them to join,” Janša said. “When they win this war, the Ukrainian army will be one of the strongest, if not the strongest army on the European continent."

1:14 p.m. ET, March 30, 2022

British prime minister says it's "not the objective of the UK government" to remove Putin from power  

From CNN’s Benjamin Brown and Arnaud Siad 

(UK Parliament TV)
(UK Parliament TV)

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Wednesday that it’s “not the objective of the UK government” to remove Russian President Vladimir Putin from power.   

Speaking to the Liaison Committee of the House of Commons, Johnson was asked by lawmakers if he agreed that the final outcome should not only be “Russians out of Ukraine but Putin out of the Kremlin?” 

“It is absolutely clear, it is not the objective of the UK government [to remove Putin from power]. We are simply setting out to help, to protect the people of Ukraine, to protect them against absolutely barbaric and unreasonable violence. That is what we are doing,” the prime minister responded. 

Johnson also said sanctions against Russia should be intensified until every Russian boot was out of Ukraine. 

“I certainly don’t think you could expect the G7 to lift sanctions simply because there’s been a ceasefire in Ukraine. That again goes straight into Putin’s playbook. In my view, we should continue to intensify sanctions with a rolling program until every single one of his troops is out of Ukraine,” he said. 

Asked if this included Crimea, Johnson said, “As I said, every single one of his troops is out of Ukraine.” 

1:07 p.m. ET, March 30, 2022

Ukrainian police say there is continued shelling by Russians in the Donetsk region

From CNN’s Josh Pennington

Damage is seen after shelling in the Donetsk region in Ukraine on March 30.
Damage is seen after shelling in the Donetsk region in Ukraine on March 30. (Leon Klein/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Russia troops have attacked nine settlements, damaging at least eight civilian buildings, including houses and shops, according to the National Police of Ukraine. 

Russians fired at the civilian population with “mortars, tanks, artillery, and small arms," and some have been wounded.

The most heavily shelled cities and towns in the region over the past 24 hours have been Mariupol, Marinka, Krasnohorivka, Avdiivka, Vuhledar, Volnovakha, Zalizne, Ocheretyne (Oleksandrivska TG), and Novoselivka-3, according to police. The city of Pokrovsk also came under attack on Wednesday. 

Information about destruction and the victims is still being clarified, police say.

The Donetsk region is one of two breakaway eastern Ukrainian territories, the self-declared Donetsk People's Republic and Luhansk People's Republic.

1:09 p.m. ET, March 30, 2022

Top US general in Europe says US force posture has to change on the continent

From CNN's Ellie Kaufman

Gen. Tod Wolters testifies during a US House Armed Service Committee hearing on Capitol Hill on Wednesday.
Gen. Tod Wolters testifies during a US House Armed Service Committee hearing on Capitol Hill on Wednesday. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)

Gen. Tod Wolters, commander of US European Command, told lawmakers during a congressional hearing Wednesday the US force posture in Europe needs to change.

Wolters, who oversees the US military presence on the European continent, said the US force posture needs to change not only in Eastern Europe but also in “air policing activity” and in “naval maritime groups.”

“It’s gotta change, and certainly this is an opportunity as a result of this senseless act on behalf of Russia to re-examine the permanent military architecture that exists not only in Eastern Europe, but in our air policing activity in aviation and in our standing naval maritime groups,” Wolters said.

Wolters also highlighted the eight battalion-sized battle groups the US and NATO are establishing in Eastern European NATO member countries.

“We are in the process of establishing eight very coherent minimum battalion sized battle groups in Eastern Europe that have all of the appropriate enablers that are coupled in with all the air policing assets and all the standing naval maritime groups so that we can more comprehensively defend in the east and do so in the north all the way back to the Atlantic Ocean extending back into the Mediterranean,” Wolters said.

NATO member nations will be a part of building up the force posture in Europe and are committed to changing the force posture from a “rotational” to a “more permanent” presence, Wolters said. 

“They are going to be part of the equation, and they’re very willing to do so to change the presence from a rotational to a more permanent, and I think it will continue to grow, and we’re working very hard with the North Atlantic Council to do that,” Wolters said.

In addition, he said the US has “two centers” with “approximately 100 individuals” that are working to get military assistance and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine.

“We at US EUCOM have two centers with approximately 100 individuals that continue to iterate in the military dimension with Ukrainian liaison officers that are working both the security assistance items in the military dimension and the humanitarian assistance items,” Wolters said.

Wolters called the system an “iterative process” that is “based off supply and demand.”

“It’s not perfect by any means, but it continues to improve over time, and we’ll continue to iterate, and we’ll make sure that we continue to connect with those interlocutors at the Ukrainian level to make sure they get the right gear as quickly as we possibly can,” Wolters said. 

12:49 p.m. ET, March 30, 2022

Russian military spokesperson says "planned regrouping" around Kyiv and Chernihiv underway

From CNN's Nathan Hodge in Lviv

Russian Ministry of Defense spokesperson Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said Wednesday that a "planned regrouping of troops" was underway around Kyiv and Chernihiv, one day after Russian negotiators said Moscow's forces would take steps toward de-escalation around the two cities. 

"At the first stage of the special military operation carried out by the Russian Armed Forces on the territory of Donbas and Ukraine, it was planned to force the enemy to concentrate his forces, means, resources and military equipment to hold large settlements in these areas, including Kyiv," Konashenkov said in a statement. "To tie them up on the battlefield and without storming these cities, in order to avoid losses among the civilian population, inflict such a defeat on the armed formations of the Kyiv regime that would not allow it to use these forces in the main direction of operations of our armed forces - in the Donbas. All of these goals have been met."

Ukrainian officials have reported Russian shelling over the past 24 hours around both cities. US officials have been skeptical of Russia's claims of de-escalation, and some observers have suggested Russia's shifting military objectives are meant to conceal setbacks on the battlefield.

Konashenkov claimed that the "main tasks of the Russian armed forces in the Kyiv and Chernihiv directions have been completed," adding Russian forces were regrouping in order to "intensify operations in priority areas and, above all, to complete the operation for the complete liberation of Donbas," in Ukraine's east.

12:43 p.m. ET, March 30, 2022

Biden told Zelensky the US would provide Ukraine with $500 million in "direct budgetary aid," White House says

From CNN's DJ Judd, Kevin Liptak, Jeremey Diamond and Kaitlan Collins

US President Joe Biden spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for about an hour, according to the White House.

Zelensky tweeted after the call that they "shared assessment of the situation on the battlefield and at the negotiating table. Talked about specific defensive support, a new package of enhanced sanctions, macro-financial and humanitarian aid."

In a statement, the White House said Biden told Zelensky the US “intends to provide the Ukrainian government with $500 million in direct budgetary aid” on the call.

The budgetary aid is to help pay salaries, among other things, according to an official.

“The leaders discussed how the United States is working around the clock to fulfill the main security assistance requests by Ukraine, the critical effects those weapons have had on the conflict, and continued efforts by the United States with allies and partners to identify additional capabilities to help the Ukrainian military defend its country,” the White House says, adding Biden also “reviewed the additional sanctions and humanitarian assistance announced last week.”

The call was scheduled for 10:45 a.m. ET (5:45 p.m. in Kyiv) “to discuss our continued support for Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression.” It began at 11:08 a.m. ET and ended at 12:03 p.m. ET.

The call comes a day after Biden and other US officials voiced extreme caution at signals Russia is scaling back its military operations near Kyiv, suggesting they were waiting to see stronger signs of de-escalation before making an assessment of Moscow's intentions.

"We'll see. I don't read anything into it until I see what their actions are. We'll see if they follow through what they're suggesting," Biden said at the White House Tuesday.

Biden noted that in the meantime, the US will continue to "keep strong the sanctions" and "provide the Ukrainian military with their capacity to defend themselves."